“But then uniqueness is not always a good thing. It sets you apart from other men.”
Okay, I know, these first couple weeks with Barnabas are kind of a hard road. Most of the action’s been off-screen, and cow-related. Barnabas has been acting more like a kindly uncle than a demonic horror from the past.
Come on, the audience cries, enough with the slow build already. Bring on the scares!
Or let’s get out of Willie’s bedroom, at least. The show’s been hanging around the house for a week, it’s time to get some fresh air.
So here’s Maggie, closing up for the night at the coffee shop. She puts on her coat, and look what’s here — the Ralston-Purina lamp! It gets a close-up and everything. I told you that thing was portable; it’s all the way downtown.
Maggie sees a menacing shadow behind her — she turns — and here’s Barnabas, with that “I’ve used up all the cows” look on his face. She was about to lock up, but he’s charming and lonely, so she sticks around and serves him coffee.
He tells her he’s moving into the Old House, and she asks if he’s put off by the rumors that the old place is haunted.
Barnabas: I never listen to such rumors.
Maggie: Well, that makes you quite unique in this town.
Barnabas: But then uniqueness is not always a good thing. It sets you apart from other men.
And if that sentence has any meaning at all, then you’re welcome to it. And yet somehow Jonathan Frid sells it, giving this silly line a kind of haunted gravitas. That is the magic of Fridspeak.
Then Maggie says, “My, what an unusual cane!” which is one of those sentences that you don’t hear very often. A person could go a long time between cane admirers.
But Barnabas knows how to impress a girl. He tells her that the cane is a valuable heirloom: “gold, and silver, and very, very old.”
As Maggie pours a refill for his coffee, she hears a pack of dogs howling outside. This is a mysterious vampire power that never really gets explained. It’s not clear how Barnabas makes dogs howl, or even if he does it on purpose. It’s possible that the dogs just howl whenever he gets excited about something, kind of a canine early warning system.
Barnabas leaves, and Maggie’s boyfriend Joe stops by to pick her up. Joe was worried about her — a young woman was almost attacked on the street tonight, but she managed to get away. So Maggie wasn’t even Barnabas’ first choice tonight! The vampire is a player.
While Maggie’s cleaning up, she realizes that Barnabas has left his cane behind. How smooth is that? Now they have to drive up to the Old House to bring it back to him.
Nobody answers at the Old House when they knock, but the door creaks open by itself, so they go in and look around. Willie’s obviously been doing a lot of work — the windows have all been replaced, and the cobwebs are gone. It’s still spooky and dark, but it’s not a wreck anymore.
Also, the place is lousy with candles. You can’t move for candles. On soap operas, lighting a bunch of candles is shorthand for “they’re about to have sex,” so imagine Barnabas’ disappointment when he appears in front of Maggie, and finds out that she’s brought her boyfriend along. Cane-blocked!
So Barnabas thanks Maggie for bringing the cane, and she goes home with Joe. Barnabas picks up a candle and stands at the window, staring out into the night. The dogs howl — and at Maggie’s house, she has the feeling that she’s being watched.
And now we’re rolling! Anybody out there a fan of torturing the young and innocent? You’ve got all kinds of things to look forward to. Stay tuned!
Tomorrow: Whom It Was.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Barnabas first meets Maggie and asks for coffee, he takes some very obvious peeks at the teleprompter.
When Maggie and Joe knock on the door at the Old House, she says, “He can’t be in bed yet, he was in the coffee zone just a half an hour ago.” (At least, it sounds to me like “coffee zone”. It could be something else. It’s definitely not “coffee shop”, whatever it is.)
Tomorrow: Whom It Was.
— Danny Horn